• Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

  • By: Paul Theroux
  • Narrated by: John McDonough
  • Length: 24 hrs and 55 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (226 ratings)
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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star  By  cover art

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

By: Paul Theroux
Narrated by: John McDonough
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Publisher's summary

In Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Paul Theroux retraces the steps he took thirty years ago in his classic The Great Railway Bazaar. From the Eurostar in London, he once again sets out on a journey to the East, travelling overland through Eastern Europe, India and Asia. Infused with the changes that have shaped the exterior landscape and enriched with developments to his own perceptions and psychology, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is an absorbing and beautifully written follow-up to The Great Railway Bazaar.
©2008 Paul Theroux (P)2009 WF Howes Ltd

What listeners say about Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

Average customer ratings
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

ghost train to the eastern star

I've always considered Paul Theroux my travel mentor since I hitch hiked half the world at 18. For anyone who has dreamed of revisiting the world they visited more then thirty years ago Ghost Train is a delight. I've read all of Theroux's fiction and non-fiction and this is one of his best non-fiction books. I think Theroux has mellowed a bit. He is not the curmudgeon of Dark Star Safari or other recent non-fiction. I love his observations of people he meets, especially his train companions. The portrait of his Burmese guide and his generosity towards him will always be indelibly etched in my mind. I fantasize that in some far away place I might meet him on a train.(although one should be wary of what he might say about the encounter later in a book) I also appreciated the sense that as one gets older travel is more challenging, but with life's experiences we view the world's people with more compassion and the governments more cynically.

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27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Engrossing but kind of depressing

Good value in the vast distance and many cultures and nations covered, and the many hours of densely packed details he puts in, so if you want to be taken on a very long and detailed journey from Europe to Japan, it's the book to get. By the end though, the overall feeling was a bit depressive and jaded and the impression of nearly all the societies he visited was on the negative side - most of the population he encountered seemed to be either poor, desperate, drunk, grubby, corrupt or willing to do anything for a buck, which of course may well be true but was a fairly humourless theme. And his focus on talking to and about prostitutes wherever he went was starting to tip the balance from general interest to slightly uncomfortable obsession towards the end. Overall, quite engrossing and informative but not very optimistic about that part of the world - which is a pretty big chunk of the world - and I'd have to say ultimately no "feel good" in fact a bit of a "feel bad" experience.

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not that great

Largely a fan of Mr. Theroux and his style of writing but after 20 hours I had to stop. The book began well and even advanced well but became long and laborious - toward the end seemingly sex trade orientated. Even my husband who listens haphazardly as he's in and out of the room said "wow, that book tanked."

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5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great audio adventure

Where does Ghost Train to the Eastern Star rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Pretty High. I have a hard time reviewing the books I do not love.

What did you like best about this story?

The main character had so much understanding of people.

Have you listened to any of John McDonough’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes,,,He is my favorite narrator. I have listened to most of what he has done and I loved Grand and Glorious Physician. The other story of Luke in the Bible. McDonaugh just is the characters to me. I also loved his Mitford Series and could not listen to the prequeal because it was not him.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

I think his time in Viet Nam was amazing.

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Not the Great Railway Bazaar

Disappointed. Author was melancholic throughout and seemed to move from one episode of dull ranting to another. If you are expecting an impressive sequel to the Great Railway Bazaar, skip and look elsewhere.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Ghost Train would bore even the dead!

What disappointed you about Ghost Train to the Eastern Star?
I am trying to find words to describe how bad this book was. I am at a loss. The book started off nicely, but once Mr. Theroux left Europe, it became a trudging misery. All it was a long drawn out pompous pondefication about child prostitution, bashing of christian missionaries, bashing of President Bush, bashing of other authors. It was murderous to get through this book.

For all his pompous "horror" of child prostitution, he certainly was able to find it, over and over and over.

The last part is only 7 hours long but it took literally 3 months to get through. Honestly, if I could have gnawed off my own ears, I would have. If this book was any more boring it would be required reading in 8th grade!


Has Ghost Train to the Eastern Star turned you off from other books in this genre?
No, not the genre. But you would never get me to read Paul Theroux again. Not for $1,000,000.00, not if you had a gun to my head, not if you were waterboarding me with lava!

Did the narration match the pace of the story?
No, the narration dragged on right along with the story.

What character would you cut from Ghost Train to the Eastern Star?
Paul Theroux.

Any additional comments?
Stay away... stay far far away!

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Be Ready for a Long Ride

A lot of readers complained about the book's fascination with sex workers, but I found this to be one of the most important and honest aspects of the narrative. To not write so openly and honestly about the sex trade would have been a disservice to the readers, to Paul himself, and to those working in the field all throughout Asia. Yes, it's not easy to listen to talk of pedophilia, but it's of the upmost importance for westerners to be aware that travelers from the US and Europe are fueling a portion of this trade and that as a travel community, we need to hold these people accountable.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An education, cleverly disguised as an adventure

First, this is a sequel, of sorts. It can stand on it's own, but I recommend that you first listen to his earlier book, "The Great Railway Bazaar." Both are excellent. Mellow, vivid, honest, human... You will feel as though you've seen these places and met the people. Along the way Theroux discusses the geography, culture, history, and politics of the places he's traveling through. (If those subjects were taught through such engaging narrative in school I might have remembered some of them.)

I'll definitely be listening to both again soon, and some of his other books as well.

A practical tip: Listen while you are doing mindless tasks (folding laundry, doing dishes, pulling weeds, recovering from a cold, ...). You will find yourself visualizing the scenes described, and it's easy to ignore what's going on around you. I'm about to head off on a scenic road trip and will *not* be listening to these on the way.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A great follow up to the first

I thoroughly enjoyed The Great Railway Bazaar, and so I decided to take this one on too.
I was afraid that this wouldn't live up, but it really did.
Paul's writing is excellent, and he's still an avid traveler; the fact that he had to change course from the original route made it all the more interesting as he was able to reach new places that he hadn't before.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

DO YOU LIKE IT MILD, HOT OR COLD?

As usual, I loved the book and already plan on listening to it a second time. From mild England and Europe all the way to
hot Sir Linka and north through cold Japan and across frozen Siberia. What could be better than sitting in your easy chair in a comfortable room at home and enjoying a Paul Theroux adventure?

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